•  3244
    Religion and the Sublime
    In Timothy M. Costelloe (ed.), The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present, Cambridge University Press. pp. 183-202. 2012.
    Warning: includes two somewhat graphic images. This paper is an effort to lay out a taxomony of conceptual relations between the domains of the sublime and the religious.
  •  1844
    Kant, Modality, and the Most Real Being
    Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 91 (2): 157-192. 2009.
    Kant's speculative theistic proof rests on a distinction between “logical” and “real” modality that he developed very early in the pre-critical period. The only way to explain facts about real possibility, according to Kant, is to appeal to the properties of a unique, necessary, and “most real” being. Here I reconstruct the proof in its historical context, focusing on the role played by the theory of modality both in motivating the argument (in the pre-critical period) and, ultimately, in undoin…Read more
  •  1660
    Kant says that it can be rational to accept propositions on the basis of non-epistemic or broadly practical considerations, even if those propositions include “transcendental ideas” of supersensible objects. He also worries, however, about how such ideas (of freedom, the soul, noumenal grounds, God, the kingdom of ends, and things-in-themselves generally) acquire genuine positive content in the absence of an appropriate connection to intuitional experience. How can we be sure that the ideas ar…Read more
  •  1596
    Belief in Kant
    Philosophical Review 116 (3): 323-360. 2007.
    Most work in Kant’s epistemology focuses on what happens “upstream” from experience, prior to the formation of conscious propositional attitudes. By contrast, this essay focuses on what happens "downstream": the formation of assent (Fuerwahrhalten) in its various modes. The mode of assent that Kant calls "Belief" (Glaube) is the main topic: not only moral Belief but also "pragmatic" and "doctrinal" Belief as well. I argue that Kant’s discussion shows that we should reject standard accounts of …Read more
  •  1543
    Kant, Real Possibility, and the Threat of Spinoza
    Mind 121 (483): 635-675. 2012.
    In the first part of the paper I reconstruct Kant’s proof of the existence of a ‘most real being’ while also highlighting the theory of modality that motivates Kant’s departure from Leibniz’s version of the proof. I go on to argue that it is precisely this departure that makes the being that falls out of the pre-critical proof look more like Spinoza’s extended natura naturans than an independent, personal creator-God. In the critical period, Kant seems to think that transcendental idealism allow…Read more
  •  1457
    This paper considers Kant's views on how it can be rational to hope for God's assistance in becoming morally good. If I am fully responsible for making myself good and can make myself good, then my moral condition depends entirely on me. However, if my moral condition depends entirely on me, then it cannot depend on God, and it is therefore impossible for God to provide me with any assistance. But if it is impossible for God to provide me with any assistance, it is irrational for me to hope for …Read more
  •  1044
    Kant's concepts of justification
    Noûs 41 (1). 2007.
    An essay on Kant's theory of justification, where by “justification” is meant the evaluative concept that specifies conditions under which a propositional attitude is rationally acceptable with a moderate-to-high degree of confidence. Kant employs both epistemic and non-epistemic concepts of justification: an epistemic concept of justification sets out conditions under which a propositional attitude is rationally acceptable with a moderate-to-high degree of confidence and a candidate (if true an…Read more
  •  1010
    Real Repugnance and our Ignorance of Things-in-Themselves: A Lockean Problem in Kant and Hegel
    Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus 7 135-159. 2010.
    Kant holds that in order to have knowledge of an object, a subject must be able to “prove” that the object is really possible—i.e., prove that there is neither logical inconsistency nor “real repugnance” between its properties. This is (usually) easy to do with respect to empirical objects, but (usually) impossible to do with respect to particular things-in-themselves. In the first section of the paper I argue that an important predecessor of Kant’s account of our ignorance of real possibility…Read more
  •  1010
    Kant on the normativity of taste: The role of aesthetic ideas
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (3). 2007.
    For Kant, the form of a subject's experience of an object provides the normative basis for an aesthetic judgement about it. In other words, if the subject's experience of an object has certain structural properties, then Kant thinks she can legitimately judge that the object is beautiful - and that it is beautiful for everyone. My goal in this paper is to provide a new account of how this 'subjective universalism' is supposed to work. In doing so, I appeal to Kant's notions of an aesthetic idea …Read more
  •  966
    On going back to Kant
    Philosophical Forum 39 (2): 109-124. 2008.
    A broad overview of the NeoKantian movement in Germany, written as an introduction to a series of essays about that movement. -/- .
  •  919
    Causal refutations of idealism
    Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240): 487-507. 2010.
    In the ‘Refutation of Idealism’ chapter of the first Critique, Kant argues that the conditions required for having certain kinds of mental episodes are sufficient to guarantee that there are ‘objects in space’ outside us. A perennially influential way of reading this compressed argument is as a kind of causal inference: in order for us to make justified judgements about the order of our inner states, those states must be caused by the successive states of objects in space outside us. Here I cons…Read more
  •  874
    Leibniz and Kant on Empirical Miracles: Rationalism, Freedom, and the Laws
    In Brandon Look (ed.), Leibniz and Kant, Oxford University Press. pp. 320-354. 2021.
    Leibniz and Kant were heirs of a biblical theistic tradition which viewed miraculous activity in the world as both possible and actual. But both were also deep explanatory rationalists about the natural world: more committed than your average philosophical theologian to its thoroughgoing intelligibility. These dual sympathies—supernaturalist religion and empirical rationalism—generate a powerful tension across both philosophers’ systems, one that is most palpable in their accounts of empirical m…Read more
  •  852
    'As Kant Has Shown:' Analytic Theology and the Critical Philosophy
    In M. Rea & O. Crisp (eds.), Analytic Theology, Oxford University Press. pp. 116--135. 2009.
    On why Kant may not have shown what modern theologians often take him to have shown.
  •  788
    My goal in this paper is to show that Kant’s prohibition on certain kinds of knowledge of things-in-themselves is motivated less by his anti-soporific encounter with Hume than by his new view of the distinction between “real” and “logical” modality, a view that developed out of his reflection on the rationalist tradition in which he was trained. In brief: at some point in the 1770’s, Kant came to hold that a necessary condition on knowing a proposition is that one be able to prove that all the i…Read more
  •  733
    Review: Saving God from Saving God (review)
    Books and Culture 15 (3). 2012.
    Mark Johnston’s book, Saving God (Princeton University Press, 2010) has two main goals, one negative and the other positive: (1) to eliminate the gods of the major Western monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as candidates for the role of “the Highest One”; (2) to introduce the real Highest One, a panentheistic deity worthy of devotion and capable of extending to us the grace needed to transform us from inwardly-turned sinners to practitioners of agape. In this review, we argue that Jo…Read more
  •  725
    Rational Hope, Possibility, and Divine Action
    In Gordon E. Michalson (ed.), Religion within the Bounds of Mere Reason: A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press. pp. 98-117. 2014.
    Commentators typically neglect the distinct nature and role of hope in Kant’s system, and simply lump it together with the sort of Belief that arises from the moral proof. Kant himself is not entirely innocent of the conflation. Here I argue, however, that from a conceptual as well as a textual point of view, hope should be regarded as a different kind of attitude. It is an attitude that we can rationally adopt toward some of the doctrines that are not able to be proved from within the bounds of …Read more
  •  706
    Beauty as a symbol of natural systematicity
    British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (4): 406-415. 2006.
    I examine Kant's claim that a relation of symbolization links judgments of beauty and judgments of ‘systematicity’ in nature (that is, judgments concerning the ordering of natural forms under hierarchies of laws). My aim is to show that the symbolic relation between the two is, for Kant, much closer than many commentators think: it is not only the form but also the objects of some of our judgments of taste that symbolize the systematicity of nature.
  •  698
    The ethics of belief
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2016.
    The “ ethics of belief” refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of mind, psychology, and ethics. The central question in the debate is whether there are norms of some sort governing our habits of belief formation, belief maintenance, and belief relinquishment. Is it ever or always morally wrong to hold a belief on insufficient evidence? Is it ever or always morally right to believe on the basis of sufficient evidence, or to withhold belief in the perceive…Read more
  •  682
    In this chapter I highlight the apparent tensions between Kant’s very stringent critique of metaphysical speculation in the “Discipline of Pure Reason” chapter and his endorsement of Belief (Glaube) and hope (Hoffnung) regarding metaphysical theses in the subsequent “Canon of Pure Reason.” In the process I will examine his distinction between the theoretical and the practical bases for holding a “theoretical” conclusion (i.e. a conclusion about “what exists” rather than “what ought to be”) and …Read more
  •  634
    I reply to recent criticisms by Uygar Abaci and Peter Yong, among others, of my reading of Kant's pre-Critical of God's existence, and of its fate in the Critical period. Along the way I discuss some implications of this debate for our understanding of Kant's modal metaphysics and modal epistemology generally.
  •  626
    Accidentally true belief and warrant
    Synthese 137 (3). 2003.
    The Proper Functionist account of warrant – like many otherexternalist accounts – is vulnerable to certain Gettier-style counterexamples involving accidentally true beliefs. In this paper, I briefly survey the development of the account, noting the way it was altered in response to such counterexamples. I then argue that Alvin Plantinga's latest amendment to the account is flawed insofar as it rules out cases of true beliefs which do intuitively strike us as knowledge, and that a conjecture rece…Read more
  •  613
    An effort to expand and defend aspects of my earlier reading of the Deduction of Taste. The Red Scorpion is just for fun.
  •  602
    In this paper we look at a few of the most prominent ways of articulating Kant’s critical argument for Noumenal Ignorance — i.e., the claim that we cannot cognize or have knowledge of any substantive, synthetic truths about things-in-themselves — and then provide two different accounts of our own.
  •  565
    A Dialogue Concerning Aesthetics and Apolaustics
    Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (1). 2011.
    A debate between two aestheticians concerning the relative influence of Scottish and German philosophers on the contemporary discipline.
  •  559
    Causal refutations of idealism revisited
    Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242): 184-186. 2011.
    Causal refutations of external-world scepticism start from our ability to make justified judgements about the order of our own experiences, and end with the claim that there must be perceptible external objects, some of whose states can be causally correlated with that order. In a recent paper, I made a series of objections to this broadly Kantian anti-sceptical strategy. Georges Dicker has provided substantive replies on behalf of a version of the causal refutation of idealism. Here I offer a f…Read more
  •  527
    Religious dietary practices foster a sense of communal identity, certainly, but traditionally they are also regarded as pleasing to God (or the gods, or the ancestors) and spiritually beneficial. In other words, for many religious people, the effects of fasting go well beyond what is immediately observed or empirically measurable, and that is a large part of what motivates participation in the practice. The goal of this chapter is to develop that religious way of thinking into a response to a mo…Read more
  •  522
    Three Skeptics and the Critique: Review of Michael Forster's Kant and Skepticism
    with Colin Mclear
    Philosophical Books 51 (4): 228-244. 2010.
    A long critical notice of Michael Forster's recent book, "Kant and Skepticism." We argue that Forster's characterization of Kant's response to skepticism is both textually dubious and philosophically flawed. -/- .
  •  507
    A review of "Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals," by Christine M. Korsgaard. New York: Oxford, 2018. Pp. 271.